Better SEO

6 Steps to Better SEO | Video and Handout

Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Jennie Wong is the owner of Limelight Web Development, which provides ecommerce and SEO services to their clients in North Carolina and nationally.  She is also the creator of the baby product quiz site www.ABorC.com, which provides your personal Amazon Top 3 for everything from car seats to diaper bags.  She provided this 1-hour introduction to Search Engine Optimization for Women’s Startup Lab, Silicon Valley’s premier incubator for female startup founders.

What is SEO versus PPC?

  • PPC, sometimes called SEM, refers to paid ads and traffic, such as Google AdWords.  These are clearly marked at the top and to the side of the “main” results.

  • SEO refers to free placements in search results and organic traffic.  These placements appear in the “main” results when you search for something.

  • PPC experiments are a great way to gain insights, but may not be profitable for your company.

To learn more about AdWords, I recommend this training video, targeted to those prepping for the Fundamentals exam.

 

The goal of SEO

  • Google’s goal is to make the searcher happy by showing them relevant, high-quality content.

  • “White hat” SEO has the same goal, and optimizes your website in a way that clearly and accurately describes your content.

  • “Black hat” SEO has a different goal, which is to game the system and manipulate search rankings.  In the last few years, Google has effectively nullified many black hat techniques.

So, how do you do white-hat SEO?

Step 1 – Understand your WHO

  • Who, specifically, do you want to find you?

  • Consider a combination of “jobs to be done” and personas. 

Step 2 – Understand THEIR words

  • You might call it “interactive content,” but your user calls it a “quiz.”

  • Use Google Keyword Planner to understand the words your user types into Google when trying to find your product or service.

Step 3 – Consider your “long tail”

  • Short tail keywords generally have lots of volume and lots of competition, e.g. “cars”

  • Long tail keywords generally have lower volume, potentially lower competition, AND indicate someone who is closer to action, e.g. “Melbourne Red Metallic BMW 3 series, North Carolina.”

Step 4 – Review your overall website

  • What does your USER want to do on your site?

  • What do YOU want your user to do on your site?

  • Once again, consider organizing your website content by persona or “jobs to be done.”

  • Is your sitemap organized in a way that your USER will find logical?

  • Pay particular attention to your top level navigation

  • Do your pages link to each other?  For example, do your pages link back to a category page or your homepage?  Also, do your internal links use good anchor text, instead of “Click here?”

  • Consider generating an XML Sitemap and submitting it to Google

The next few steps can be applied to every page of your website, but begin with either your homepage or a landing page.

Step 5 – On-page optimization

  • In addition to having great content (aka, relevant words and images) on your page, there are additional elements which are important to optimize.  But avoid “keyword stuffing,” which can trigger penalties and turn off human users.

  • Domains should be easy to remember and type, and preferably short.

    • Keyword rich domains can be highly beneficial, e.g. www.AvoidDementia.com

    • Avoid hyphens (and NEVER use more than 1 hyphen on your domain)

  • URLs should indicate keywords and structure (and never exceed 2,000 characters).

  • Title Tags should be readable, impactful, and specific (70 character limit)

    • Appears in browsers and search results

    • Primary Keyword Secondary Keyword | Brand Name (unless your brand name has more juice than the keywords), e.g. Wedding and honeymoon cash registry | GiftGather

  • Meta Descriptions should be readable, and encourage click throughs (155 characters is optimal)

    • Meta descriptions do not help your ranking, but appear in search results

  • Alt Text for Images should include relevant keywords (and no more than 200 characters or about 16 words)

    • Search engines generally can’t read pictures, so be sure to specify “alternative text” that they can read, e.g. for a headshot: “Jane Doe, is an expert on infant eczema and CEO of BabyEczemaCream.com.”

  • H1 header tag should always be used to indicate your main heading.

    • Google will interpret this content, usually in bold, as the headline for the page, so use keywords appropriately

    • You can also use H2 tags to indicate subsections of the page

  • Rich snippets are additional information that appears in a search results, such as reviews, events, contact info.  They have been shown to increase CTRs.

Here’s a good synthesis of on-page factors.

Step 6 – Off-page optimization

  • Unlike on-page elements, you usually do not have direct control over off-page optimization, only a certain degree of influence.

  • Backlinks, aka external links, are perhaps the most important signal to Google and other search engines about the authoritativeness of your website.

    • Build high quality backlinks whenever possible, meaning authoritative and relevant sites like (in a perfect world) The Wall Street Journal.

    • Avoid low quality backlinks, as these can cause Google to “ding” you.  Smaller industry sites are great, but beware of spammy stuff.

    • This is where relationships, thought leadership, and content marketing comes in.  Create original content, infographics, videos, white papers, case studies, data tables, or any kind of “link bait” that will attract attention from high quality sites.  This can also include guest blogging and PR efforts.

    • Backlinks can be provided as “naked’ URLs or with anchor text, preferably containing your desired keywords.  Too many links with the exact same anchor text may trigger closer scrutiny.  Incidentally, Google will generally only count the first anchor text on a page if a link appears more than once.

  • Outbound links are less important, but still send trust signals to Google and other search engines.

    • Linking from your site to trusted sites can signal to Google that your site is not spammy, e.g. The American Cancer Association.

  • Social signals

    • There’s much debate about whether social media does or doesn’t contribute to your ranking on Google.  However, it’s for sure that Google+ influences the results you see on Google when logged in, and Google+ activity influences search rankings, even for non-signed in users. Google looks at activity from authoritative Google+ users as indicators of website authority.

Here is the complete downloadable Introduction to SEO handout. 

Jennie Wong, Better SEOJennie Wong is the creator of ABorC.com a product quiz website that helps you shop faster on Amazon.  She has just launched a category of Baby Products, so check out their shopping quizzes for car seats, diaper bags, swings, and more.

 For help with your website, go to Lime Light Web Development

 

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